ON LOVE; PART MCCCLV
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We ended the last essay with some thoughts on the role of agape as the singular KEY to the Kingdom of God. This IS so because in the expression of agape, as this IS taught us by the Master and His apostles, IS the essence of keeping His words; Paul shows us this in such sayings as “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14). We must of course see that Paul’s words on the idea of “all the law” DOES perforce include ALL of the Master’s words as well as those commandments that DO resolve themselves into the Great Commandments. This excludes those ancillary laws contributed by Moses which were applied to the people with a view toward social and cultural control. These laws pertain to rites and rituals, dietary regulations designed to protect from sickness and disease, laws whose design was social order and the control of contracted diseases; many of these ancillary laws were then exacerbated by the oral traditions established by the Jews. Such ancillary ideas as the sabbath, sacrifice, holy days with their specific rules, and circumcision as understood by the Jew ARE NOT among the deeper aspects of the law where the objectives ARE Right Human Relations and an understanding of the reality of One God. We should remember that it IS the deeper aspects of the law that were the most ignored in the lives of the Jews. Against the reality of One God as the basis for True spiritual living, the Jews history shows us the difficulty of this enterprise up to the time of the captivity of Israel and then of Judah. The New Testament shows us how that the post captivity ideas of this reality were observed ONLY through rites and rituals, through sacrifices and the rote following of the oral traditions; they were NOT founded in the heart of the Jews practice of the law. Jesus cites this several times in the gospels especially in His list of woes which ARE addressed directly at the Pharisee, the scribe and the other religious and social leaders of the Jews. The Master’s list IS lengthy and should show us the most basic idea: that the Jew failed in regard to the idea of Right Human Relations through the practice of their own mitzvah. Jesus tells them:
“woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever* sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets” (Matthew 23:13-31).
While these woes represent Jesus’ condemnation of the Jews practice of the law as it existed, they ARE also a condemnation of the way that His own Truer and deeper interpretations of the law as shown us in the Sermon on the Mount ARE ignored; interpretations that ARE founded in His KNOWING of the Truth as it was meant always to be. And while some of these woes ARE directly addressed to the Jew’s practice, we should look at the way that many such practices were adopted by the Christian world. In the light of day there IS little difference between the practicing Jew and the practicing Christian; both hold ONLY to their doctrines and forsake the eternal Truths that ARE the reality of Right Human Relations, the reality of agape. And, from the perspective of some Christian teachers who see Christians as spiritual descendants of Abraham, the ties to ancient and Jesus’ era Judaism remain strong as many heavily rely upon sayings from the Old Testament to support their Christian views. This they DO while at the same time relegating the Master’s words to a position where they apply ONLY to the Jews of 2000 years ago. It IS from this position that so many disregard the teachings of the Master in favor of their individual doctrinal views based in their interpretations of the words of the apostle’s and here again especially Paul who they see as the “author and finisher of our faith” rather than the Master. Can we see the doctrinal confusion here? Can we see that according to the words of the writer of Hebrews saying “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2), this role IS the Master’s. While the Christian will NOT admit to this confusion, they DO rely upon Paul more than Jesus as the originator of the faith. We will not address this saying other than to show that it IS Jesus who IS the chief leader 9a as archegos which IS rendered as author IS defined by Strong’s; this IS a position that IS never claimed by Paul. Similarly we should see the idea of teleiotes which IS rendered as finisher as Strong’s shows us saying this IS: a completer, i.e. consummater 9a. Thayer’s defines teleiotes as a perfecter as they tell us that the word occurs nowhere else 9. Vincent sets a different tone for this saying that Jesus IS the “author and finisher of our faith“; he tells us that: The A.V. is misleading, and narrows the scope of the passage. For author, rend. leader or captain, and see on Hebrews 2:10. For finisher, rend. perfecter. For our faith, rend. faith or the faith. Not our Christian faith, but faith absolutely, as exhibited in the whole range of believers from Abel to Christ. Christ cannot be called the author or originator of faith, since the faith here treated existed and worked before Christ. Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith. In himself he furnished the perfect development, the supreme example of faith, and in virtue of this he is the leader of the whole believing host in all time. Notice the recurrence of the favorite idea of perfecting 4. Regardless of which description of the idea we may favor, the gist IS ever that it IS the Master who shows us the Way and NOT the apostles as prescribed by much of the church; prescribed mostly because of the presumed inability of men to DO as the Master says. They, perhaps without realizing it, fall into that category of men that ARE deceived according to James’ words saying “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
This deception IS easily seen in the way that the doctrinal thinker DOES NOT see himself in the Master’s words which too many see as written ONLY for the Jews. The reality of the application of most ALL of Jesus’ words and acts ARE NOT understood in their predictive sense nor for the example that they create; most ARE understood ONLY in a literal sense. Aside from the list of woes above there IS the better and classic example of both the predictive and the example in Jesus’ saying to the Jews: “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:6-9). In these words we should see a timelessness; Isaiah spoke them in relation to the prophecies of the day, NOT the future of Jesus’ time. Yet Jesus’ sees Isaiah’s words as predictive of His current time and through this we should be able to see that his words ARE also predictive of today. Setting aside the idea of “the washing of pots and cups” and substituting the various Christian rituals, we should be able to see how that it IS the doctrines of men that have ruled over “the commandment of God” which IS for the most part rejected. That Christian doctrines ARE based in Paul’s words which have formed the basis for most IS a reality of the church and in this reality we should be able to see how that most ALL ARE “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“. The church however IS blind to this result as they have deceived themselves in thinking that it IS NOT possible to be “doers of the word“. And most ALL have further deceived themselves by thinking that the direct teaching of Paul IS the same as their interpretations of his writings, interpretations based in misunderstood, misapplied and out of context sayings from his letters. Most DO NOT see the apostle’s words on “another gospel” as predictive of their own malfeasance as they set out to create a gospel that IS NOT based in the teachings of the Master. When Paul said to the Galatians that “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7) he was reflecting upon the perversion of the Master’s teaching in those days. By its nature as “the gospel of Christ” we should see ONLY Jesus’ teachings which ARE related to the Galatians through Paul and NOT the interpreted ideas that originated long after Paul’s death. “Another gospel” IS NOT that which IS contrary to the interpretations of men but that which IS contrary to the Truths that Jesus teaches us; Truths that ARE the basis for True Christianity.
We can take a lesson in this from Paul’s words to the Corinthians saying “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:3-5). While we DO NOT KNOW the specifics of Paul’s direct teaching, we can see here that it IS a teaching on Jesus, on His works, His words and His example….His simplicity. The Greek word haplotes which IS rendered here as simplicity IS more complex; Strong’s tells us that haplotes IS: singleness, i.e. (subjectively) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (objectively) generosity (copious bestowal):—bountifulness, liberal(-ity), simplicity, singleness 9a. This IS made clearer in the Revised Version where we read Paul’s words as “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” and here we should see the peril that Paul sees more clearly. It IS clear that his fear would be a move off from “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” and this IS exactly what has happened in the church. While it IS covered by the religious experience of devotion to the Savior, this devotion IS devoid of the reality of keeping His words; a reality that has been substituted for by the doctrinal approach of men. Another has come to “preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached“; another has come with “another gospel” and this other IS the Christian church in ALL its many denominations and sects. While the closing ideas from Paul’s words here can be confusing, they ARE better understood in Vincent’s commentary where we read:
- Ye might well bear (καλῶς ἠνείχεσθε); Following the reading which makes the verb in the imperfect tense, putting the matter as a supposed case. The Rev. follows the reading ἀνεχέσθε, present tense, and puts it as a fact: ye do well to bear. Lit., ye endure them finely. The expression is ironical. You gladly endure these false teachers, why do you not endure me?4.
- The very chiefest apostles ( τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων ) Lit., those who are preeminently apostles. Not referring to the genuine apostles, but ironically to the false teachers, the false apostles of 2 Corinthians 11:13. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:11. Farrar renders the extra-super apostles 4.
Vincent’s commentary here DOES NOT align with the commonly accepted ideas of other commentaries which reflect doctrine more than Paul’s words and intent; Vincent sees the irony of Paul’s words here while most DO NOT. It IS the presumption that Paul’s direct teaching aligns with the doctrinal interpretations of the apostle’s words that has created a space where most ALL assume that it IS these interpretations that ARE Paul’s Gospel and that “another gospel” IS ALL that is contrary to these interpretations, of which there ARE many. Our point IS simply that what men believe to be True regarding their doctrines IS ofttimes far from the Truth and here, in Paul’s ideas of “another gospel” we have a prime example. From the beginning the church used their interpretations of Truth as their authoritative teaching and implied to themselves and their followers that this IS the meaning of the gospels and the epistles. Most never Truly entertained the reality of the Master’s words, His commandments if you will, as being the Way; they discounted such ideas as keeping His words in the same way that the Jew discounted the primary aspects of the law in favor of the ancillary ideas of rites, rituals, sacrifices, sabbaths, dietary rules and circumcision. Most ALL, Jews and Gentiles, have failed to understand that the singular objective of religion IS found in the expression of agape; toward the Lord according to the first of the Great Commandments and toward our fellowman according to the second. Few see that the basic reality of the Great Commandments to to take one’s attention, one’s focus, off of the self and the things of the self and to put that focused attention on the things of God. And NOT in prayer and devotion as so many see the relationship between man and God, but in thoughts, in attitudes and in actions that enable a man to break free from the vanity, from his own “bondage of corruption“. It IS to this end that Paul writes in our selection from Romans and in most ALL of his epistles; it IS this change of focus that IS his teaching and NOT the convenience of the out of context ideas gleaned from his writings and used as doctrines. It IS in their striving for the convenience of a doctrine that lets men live as men that the church has been, for 2000 years, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Paul teaches us NOT to “mind the things of the flesh” and NOT to “be carnally minded” but the doctrines of men encourage such ideas as they strive to allow men to be men. They DO so perhaps in fear of teaching the Truth but more likely that the originators DID see the same problem in themselves by losing sight of their own humanity. But this IS the cost of discipleship: to give up the carnal mind and the carnal Life and to embark upon the Way of Truth; it IS this that Paul shows us in saying that “if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live“. This IS the greater reality of Paul’s teaching, a teaching that has been so distorted over the centuries that many see the apostle’s words as being in conflict with those of the Lord. We should remember here that as Souls we work through the tools that we have; we express our deepest thoughts through a mind that IS usually yet grounded in one’s Life in this world. This need to use the tools that we have, our personality, as our means of expression afflicts the common man and the saint, and ALL that find their lives between these poles. However, as we Transform, in the “the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), our expression becomes evermore clear and in tune with the Truth while still applied through the tools that we possess. This creates that uniqueness that we see in the writings of the apostles, in the style with which they write and in the content of their writing. We presume that they keep His words and therefore each of them DOES “know the truth” and the freedom from their bondage which Jesus promises to us ALL. We should note as well that it IS in the volume of his words that has enabled the reader to interpret the apostle’s words to suit his vision of Truth. Our selection from Romans IS a good example of the fertile ground Paul’s words provide for interpretations of out of context ideas; we read again:
“they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
hope, Becauseexpectation that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:5-23).
The doctrinal interpretations here ARE many and ARE primarily caused by the view that Paul IS speaking to the Christian; most DO NOT see that Paul IS speaking to the man who IS on the Path and that he IS efforting to keep him there. Who IS on the Path IS defined by much of the church as those that have ‘accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior’, and this without the necessary allegiance to His words. It IS this allegiance that IS the center point of the Master’s criteria for having the Truth and the freedom that this brings, for having His Presence in one’s Life and for having access to the Kingdom of God. This goes unseen or, better, unacknowledged, by most ALL of the church as their doctrines continually place Jesus’ words in a inferior position to those doctrinal interpretations based, so they say, in the writings of Paul. We should understand here that ALL of this IS based in a few selected ideas from the Paul’s many words which the doctrinal thinker proudly says comprise two thirds of the New Testament. If we can see that the volume of his writing has NO bearing on its importance which IS justified ONLY by those who call it so, we can then perhaps put the apostle’s many epistles into the right context of amplifying and clarifying the words of the Master. This IS evident in our selection as well as in any open-minded reading of his many letters. While the church lays claim to the “Spirit of adoption“, to being “spiritually minded“; to having “the Spirit of Christ” and to having “the firstfruits of the Spirit“, such claims ARE without foundation and this because most ALL of Paul’s spiritual benefits have a counterpart in works that must be accomplished toward the realization of each benefit. Most ALL of these works can be found summarized in Paul’s words that clearly tell us that “if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live“; it IS in this sense of living that ALL of these benefits ARE found. The doctrinal thinker places his spiritual Life in the hands of such doctrinally accepted ideas as those interpreted from Paul’s words. Chief among these IS his saying that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). It IS these few words,out of context words to be sure, that have been propelled by the church’s doctrines and which have overcome the entirety of the Master’s teachings in the eyes of millions; and this based in the authoritative stance of the churches. In this the churches have rendered moot the Truths that the Master brought to humanity as they have hidden the True Path from view. This Path IS defined for us in Jesus’ words and here again our example IS our trifecta where Jesus tells us:
- “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
Returning to the theme with which we began this post, Jesus’ list of woes against the religious leaders of the Jews, we can now try to see how that the Christian’s doctrinal approach that began with the church fathers and continued in the teachings of the reformers contains many similarities to the Master’s ‘condemnation’ of the Jews’ religious approach. First and foremost IS the Master’s charge saying “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). Here the Master IS speaking specifically about the Jew’s doctrines which, because of their lacking in the fundamental Truths of the law, have “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men“. It IS their concentration upon the rote performances of their rites and rituals, their use of sacrifice, their observances of the sabbaths and holy days and their strict adherence to the ancient dietary regulations in place of what Jesus reframed as the Great Commandments that doomed the Jew’s religion in Jesus’ eyes. Can we see the similarities to today’s religious practices of the various doctrines that encumber Christianity? While the rote performance may be minimized in some parts of the church, rites and rituals still have a large effect upon the psyches of men. There IS also the effective cancellation of the Master’s Truth based in Paul’s words above regarding ‘salvation‘; the doctrinal ideas that flow from these two verses have facilitated a cancellation of the Truth. Can we see here how that a returning Christ could use this same woe against a majority of the church that take His words with a grain of salt while highly regarding their own doctrinal interpretations which ARE but “the commandments of men“?
Jesus second woe goes to the hypocrisy and the covetousness of the Jew’s as a church. While the idea that the religious leaders DID “devour widows’ houses” IS a rather specific allegation, it IS nonetheless misunderstood by many. The idea here IS that the religious establishment took from widows that which they may not have in tithes and devotions; rather than supporting the widows and children with their substance they take and “for a pretence make long prayer“. While some parts of the current day church ARE philanthropic toward widows and children, this has NOT always been so. Other parts of the church around the world still expect the tithes and devotions of widows with some bargaining for such against the prospect of manifold return based in a selection of Jesus’ words, and some egregiously so. What would Jesus say to those who believe and teach the ‘prosperity gospels’ and others that seek to take from widows and others off lower means to fill their own coffers. While many such church groups DO tithe themselves, they still retain the vast majority of their wealth and we should try to see here how that some act as though religion IS a business set up for their benefit.
The third woe IS a focus of the Christian churches that IS erroneously taken from among the Master’s final admonitions which have been presumed to be the great commission of the church. The Jews’ focus upon proselytizing IS only documented for us in Jesus words saying “ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte” as He shows us that in their doing that they ARE indoctrinating the proselyte into the ways of the Jews and NOT into the Way of Truth. Jesus point here should be clear but IS muddied by doctrinal commentaries which cite such ideas as that these proselytes: were trained up by them in the most bitter prejudices against Christ, and his Gospel; and many of them proved more violent persecutors of the followers of Christ, than the original Jews themselves 8. This view from John Gill IS revisionist and presumes that Jesus IS speaking of those few who may have been converted during this three years rather that the general habit of the Jews to ‘train up‘ the proselyte according to the errors of the Jews’ doctrines. Can we see how that the present church, with its focus on proselytizing, IS DOING this very same thing but on a much larger scale. While the idea IS True over the centuries, it IS more pronounced today as there ARE so many sects and denominations vying for the attention of every candidate, each teaching its own version of Christian doctrine. The Christian error IS a church that sees this great commission as the teaching of doctrines rather than Jesus command of “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” which IS the total of the Truths found in His words. Can we see the similarities here between Jesus condemnation of the Jews’ doctrinal practices and the Christians proselytizing according to their various doctrines, their “commandments of men“? Would a returning Jesus see this as we DO? Or would he see it according to the presumptions of the church?
The next group of woes ARE ALL related to the idea of vows, oaths and gifts and, while we DO NOT understand the relevance, we can see some strange Jewish practice whereby one must perform his oath regarding gold or or gifts while vows and oaths against the temple or the altar carry no such weight. In this we have little to show towards the Christian DOING the same except what we can take from the Master’s words saying “ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool*: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:33-37). The final idea of “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” IS NOT the normal attitude of most men, Christian or otherwise, and in this we can try to see how that even these obscure woes ARE transferable to the Christian world.
There ARE several more woes in Matthew’s gospel which we will take up in the next post. Our point here in discussing these IS to show how that the same type of religious offence railed against by the Master in this list of woes ARE yet performed by the Christian and this primarily in the first and likely most important of them. This of course IS the way that the church IS “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” which DOES effectively “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men“. We should remember here that the “kingdom of heaven” IS, according to the Master, reserved for “he that doeth the will of my Father” which IS NOT the teaching focus of the church at large. The covetousness of the church which IS reflected in Jesus words saying “ye devour widows’ houses” IS also replicated in most ALL of the Christian church where the constant drive for tithes and gifts takes from ALL regardless of financial condition; an effort that many teach as a Christian duty and others teach as that it must be ten percent of whatsoever one may have. The reality of proselytizing, of indoctrinating men into the several doctrinal approaches established by men, IS likely NO different than that which Jesus spoke against yet NO ONE sees the hypocrisy. We close here with the idea that IS attached to the Master’s words on vows and oaths and gifts; that such religious practices ARE, along with the rest of their religious practices, the product of “blind guides” who DO NOT and, through their own indoctrination, likely CAN NOT see the Truths that they should be teaching.
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher